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Sunday Edition talks to: Nozinja

Our second headliner for February is Nozinja. Richard “Nozinja” Mthetwa, an electronic music producer based in the Limpopo province of South Africa, and the charismatic architect of the Shangaan electro sound. From its roots as the frantic heartbeat of Nozinja’s rural locale, where dancers convene at weekly street parties, bouncing on their heels and shaking their bell-like xibelani skirts in the ferocious heat, Shangaan electro has become a recognised genre in its own right, a burgeoning, radicalising influence on dance music worldwide, championed by Nozinja who seeks to expand on his signature sound even further.

BM: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that Shangaan music doesn’t get the airplay and attention it deserves. You’ve done work to spread the music on a global scale. Have your views changed on this at all?

N: To be honest, nothing has changed since I’ve done Shangaan Electro. It’s actually gone from bad to worse. I think we’ve touched a nerve, on an international scale, the world thinks we are nothing without them, but to be honest, I don’t care whether they play our music. We are not on the airwaves, except on Munghanalonene (MFLM). We’ve grown knowing that they won’t play us, and that will never hurt us.

BM: It’s been 2.5 years since your critically acclaimed release on the mighty Warp. Anything coming up we can look forward to?

N: I’m currently working on new material. Trying to add some new elements to my sound, so I’m taking my time. Yes, it has been 2.5 years, that’s true, but in about 6 months time I will be introducing my new sound, new vibes. I’m working on new lyrics, even adding some English lyrics on top of incorporating other languages. Wait for it. It’s coming, and it’s coming in a BIG way.

BM: How do you typically create a Shangaan Electro song. Is there a specific process to it? What programs and gear do you use?

N: I use Cubase 5, with a lot of samples that I use to create my Shangaan Electro sound. Shangaan Electro is something that’s in my heart, in my blood. when I go in to the studio, I know what to touch and what not to touch, so when I go into my production software, I can just make magic.

BM: It was your own videos that caught everyone’s attention many years back. Any other videos you may have directed and produced we’re not aware of, or plans to do more?

N: Those videos, I made them myself. And I have 4 or 5 videos that are not even out yet. No one knows about them! Only me and my family know about them. Not even my dancers know about the new ones I made. I’m very proud of my music video innovations thus far that I’ve put out on the internet, they’re currently sitting on 4 or 5 million views. Seeing all of us on those videos makes me proud, and I’m excited to create more.

BM: What other Shangaan artists should we be listening to?

N: There’s a lot of talented artists I’m listening to like Benny Mayengani. Up-and-coming artists within the genre. We’ve got Sakamela, Flora Chauke, Russian Army… Plenty of them.

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